Happy Friday! Megan here.

Weather check: Windy

🗳️Are you ready for Election Day? Watch for a special email Tuesday morning with your "Election Day Survival Guide."

This week, I've got the last bit of the election guide for the Sioux Falls School Board race, in which five folks are vying for two open seats. You'll also find a look at options the school district is considering to replace Whittier Middle School, a new way to visit the zoo and some Super Simplified Stories.

And now, news:


Sioux Falls school board candidates talk transparency, safety and more

Editor's note: This is part of a multi-part series on the 2024 city and school board election. Find the full city/school election coverage here.

Simplified: Five people are vying for two open seats on the board that oversees the largest school district in the state. Sioux Falls Simplified sat down with all five candidates to get their take on issues relevant to local schools.

Why it matters

  • Sioux Falls School Board members are elected officials who make decisions that affect about 25,000 kids in the city – as well as more than 3,000 employees. So, Sioux Falls Simplified asked them how they view transparency in their decision making and if they'd do anything different from the district's current policies regarding public access to information.
  • And, as with the City Council candidates, all school board candidates were given a chance to add any other thoughts they want voters to know ahead of Election Day.

Hear from the candidates directly

Want to talk transparency? Here ya go.

Wanna know what else candidates had to say before you vote? Got ya covered.


How to watch zoo animals 24/7 on your phone

This is a paid piece from the Great Plains Zoo.

Simplified: Bears at the Great Plains Zoo now have global visibility through a new partnership with a website called Zoolife. Here's what you need to know.

Why it matters

  • Zoolife is the world's first online zoo, and subscribers can tune in to see live feeds of animals in zoos across the globe – from butterflies in Colorado to orangutans in Toronto to dolphins in Florida.
  • As of this week, Zoolife also features a live look inside the exhibits of both the black bears and the coastal brown bears at the Great Plains Zoo. The livestreams will also feature regular zookeeper chats
  • Partnering with Zoolife will not only bring more awareness to the zoo, but it will also provide another revenue stream for the zoo – which will get a percentage of subscription payments.
"It's just another way we can help benefit and care for our animals," said Denise DePaolo, PR and marketing director. "It's also bringing our animals to a global audience."

Tell me more about Zoolife


Super Simplified Stories

  • The Link hits major milestone. The Link triage center has officially surpassed 10,000 visits in its nearly three years of being in operation, Mayor Paul TenHaken announced this week. TenHaken also compared The Link to a startup in that it's still learning how best to operate and help people battling addiction, mental illness and more.
  • City hires new homelessness coordinator. TenHaken this week also announced a new hire, Michelle Treasure. Treasure will focus on increasing collaboration between the city and other partners working in this space. She's expected to provide an update this summer on some initial data and next steps for the city to help addressing homelessness.
  • It's 'Healthy Living Day.' The city parks and recreation department is hosting a free event to celebrate Healthy Living Day on Saturday afternoon. Local health and fitness professionals will be there to share information, offer health screenings, do sample exercise classes and more. The event runs from 1 to 4 p.m. at Oyate Community Center and Garfield Elementary.
  • Sending condolences to the zoo. The Great Plains Zoo is mourning the loss of Chioke, the reticulated giraffe, who was humanely euthanized after a severe fracture in his front left foot. Chioke was born in 2006 in Florida and came to the zoo in 2007 at less than eight feet tall. He grew to 15 feet, and he loved to play with his boomer ball. The zoo shared the following statement:
"We remember Chioke as a gentle, curious, mischievous giraffe who was always up for feedings and interacting with his keepers and guests. 'Chioke' means 'gift from God,' and he certainly was."


Sioux Falls is looking to replace Whittier Middle School by 2030

Simplified: The Sioux Falls School District is looking at several options for replacing Whittier Middle School, but before any design begins, board members have to decide where exactly they want to put it.

Why it matters

  • Whittier is the oldest school building in use today. It opened in 1923 as an elementary school and later was expanded to become a middle school.
  • Because it's in the core of the city and surrounded by existing homes, there's no way to build new without tearing down neighboring homes, a reality accounted for in a 2018 bond that set aside funding to start buying up properties in the neighborhood.
  • School board members, as well as Superintendent Jane Stavem, said this week they want to be respectful of the neighborhood throughout this process. That's part of the reason for a new option presented this week that would require at least 10 fewer properties than previous plans laid out.
"We need to be very conscious of affordable housing and the convenience of our students to live near their schools," Board President Carly Reiter said.

Tell me more about the options for a new school


What I'm falling for this weekend:


More Simplified Stories

Stuff to do: April 3-9
Here’s a round-up of stuff to do in Sioux Falls this week.
City Council candidates talk public safety priorities
We asked candidates how they’ll approach funding decisions related to police and public safety.
Here’s what else City Council candidates want you to know
After all the prepared questions were asked, it was the candidate’s turn to go off on whatever topic they chose.


How to support Sioux Falls Simplified

Has Sioux Falls Simplified made you feel smarter about where you live?

Here are a few ways to ensure this smarter, easier local news outlet is here to stay:

  • Become a member. Consider buying into a smarter Sioux Falls by becoming a member and offering financial support to the no B.S. journalism you've been reading here.
  • Give a one-time gift. Not ready to commit to a membership? That's OK! If you want to help in a smaller way, you can give a one-time gift via buy me a coffee. :)
  • Advertise with us. Tell the "simplified" story of your business to your target audience. Want more info? Reach out to megan@sfsimplified.com or check out our media kit.
Want the process to be even simpler? You can schedule a newsletter or event sponsorship right here with just a few clicks and a few questions.

Reach out

What story do you want to see simplified? Falling for something local? Send any news tips, attaboys, missed typos or pictures of your "I Voted" stickers to megan@sfsimplified.com.

Thank you

Thank you to Sioux Falls Simplified sponsors, including Dakota Adventure Supply, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Panther Premier Print Solutions, Barre3 Sioux Falls, Midco, the Great Plains Zoo, and the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. When you support them, you're also supporting Sioux Falls Simplified.